Don’t know what I can say about Claudette that wouldn’t come back to haunt me,
Finally had to give her up ’bout the time she began to want me.
But I know God has mercy on them who are slandered and humiliated.
I’d a-done anything for that woman if she didn’t make me feel so obligated.

“The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar” by Bob Dylan

Ever since the Harvey Weinstein story broke, there has been a torrent of women from all walks of life rushing to tell their tales of abuse, often using the hashtag #MeToo.

Now, I get that men can be jerks at best and criminals at worse. I am a man. I know what we men are capable of on the dark side of things. I also get that this matter has turned from spotlighting inexcusable words and deeds to a lengthy airing of grievances against all things Y chromosome, and it’s getting quite tiresome.

There is a difference between unwanted touching and a guy a woman doesn’t want asking her out asking her out anyway. There is a difference between “suggestions” that certain favors be exchanged for career advancement and telling a co-worker she looks nice for the sole purpose of telling a co-worker she looks nice. There is a difference between stalking and attempting to strike up a conversation. Really, there is. Regrettably, the incidents of authentic abuse are now drowning beneath a screeching tsunami of every everything coming from a man that in any fashion bothers a woman being lumped together with said authentic abuse. It is manbashing on a whole new level. And it’s not making anything better.

What we are seeing is a natural byproduct of wholesale rejection by men and women of Scriptural relationship guidance. The man’s obligation is to love and take care of/protect the woman. The woman’s obligation is to love the man and respect his position as the relationship’s leader. These days, good luck finding much of either of these directives being put into practice. Lot of simpering spineless beta males. Lot of bitchy domineering women leveling impossible demands on men yet not for a millisecond willing to accept their proper role in a relationship. And we wonder why we’re a self-destructive society.

I have nothing but sympathy and support for women who have suffered at the hands of men. I have nothing but contempt for males — for men they are not — who abuse women in any fashion. I also have zero patience for women who, as was mentioned in a previous post about why they don’t date The Nice Guy™, believe they have every right to have every item on their shopping list checked off before any man can so much as say hello to them.

Grow up, girls. That guy who was by your definition a jerk to you?

#ItWasntMe

Want to find a reason why you can’t meet any “good” men? The reason why you have nothing to do but whine on social media every weekend?

#ItIsntMe

And it most likely isn’t most of the guys you’re bashing.

Once upon a time, I mused on my blog about the quiet force of nature known as The Nice Guy™. You doubtless know one; the guy who’s spoken of highly by all who know him yet remains strangely solo in a duet world. Why is that, one wonders. Could it be that far too many women are addicted to their built-in bastard radar to give The Nice Guy™ a shot? Naah. Couldn’t be that. Thankfully, one Rosemary Ribner from the immortal website Grumpy Sloth (no, I’d never heard of it before either) has come along to clear up all possible misconceptions regarding this puzzlement.

It’s all The Nice Guy™’s fault.

Ms. Ribner starts her philippic with a revelation so overwhelmingly astonishing in its utter obviousness it boggles the mind anyone would bother writing it down: guys who play-act at being The Nice Guy™ in order to try and attract women, then vociferously complain at remaining dateless, aren’t actually A Nice Guy™. What, doing a bottom drawer beta male move isn’t genuine niceness? Gee. Who knew. Maybe next Ms. Ribner will tell us water is quite often wet.

From this Captain Obvious moment, Ms. Ribner launches into other reasons why, in her estimation, The Nice Guy™ is highly suspect to spending Saturday nights grocery shopping in lieu of leavin’ ‘em stacked like cordwood on the killing floor. They don’t try hard enough, this manifested by their taking “no I don’t want to go out with you” as meaning … brace yourself … no, I don’t want to go out with you. They keep reaching out of their lane and out of their league (more on this in a bit). They’re not sufficiently imbued with masculinity, this flying in the face of how toxic masculinity is the sin above all sins for feminists but whatever. They’re too agreeable. They’re boring; apparently women holding the mindset set forth in this article prefer the thrill of being treated like toilet paper. And, they claim to be feminists, this coming as news to Nice Guys™ who to a one would rather play solitaire for fun with a deck of fifty-one than hassle attempting to date any woman identifying herself with screeching, strident, manbashing feminism. This includes any woman signing off on the points in Ms. Ribner’s article as gospel truth.

Returning to the aforementioned assertion that Nice Guys™ spend too much time trying to date over their head — because, after all, there isn’t a single single woman out there not brushing off great guys because she’s holding out for Justin Timberlake or reasonable celebrity equivalent thereof — it is more than interesting to note women seizing upon this as Holy Writ. Why can’t The Nice Guy™ go ask out that Nice Girl™ over there? She’s much more his type than me. Translation: “I deserve so much better than that boring bozo, what with his manners and consideration and such. Besides, my built-in bastard radar is pinging. Make me cry, big boy!” It could be noted how utterly condescending this is to all women sloughed off as being second tier, but there isn’t a woman alive who’d do that to another woman, now is there …

Behind Ms. Ribner’s thinly veneered manbashing exercise lies the unspoken yet plainly stated belief that women who date assholes have only The Nice Guy™ to blame. Not themselves, oh no never ever ever. If The Nice Guy™ would have just filled in on the checkboxes on my must have list, they would have saved me from myself! Sorry, ladies who think this way. There’s only one Guy capable of saving you from your own shallow, narcissistic mindset. And He’s not available for dating. You date a known bastard, it is entirely on you. Own it.

PS: Laying sarcasm aside, I know several truly wonderful women who wound up dating, and sometimes marrying, bastards not through any fault of their own. In these cases, every single time the bastard managed to keep his true nature — usually mental issues manifested by abuse on one or more levels — sufficiently hidden until it was too late for an easy exit. The woman is not at fault in these scenarios, and often emerges from these living nightmares far more appreciative of what nice guys have to offer. They deserve a nice guy. Prayerfully, they will find one.

PPS: God loves bastards too and offers them the way out from their bastard-ness:

Get out of here
You crazy voice
You’re the devil
Not my Father
Or some evil
Flesh desire
Let me be
I am free

Back in the dim and distant past known as last year, upon its rerelease yours truly wrote a review of contemporary Christian music pioneer Oden Fong’s 1979 classic record Come For The Children. Not so much a concept as timeline record, as Fong detailed life on earth spent following Christ as Lord and Savior prior to His return he noted, in the song “Crazy Voices,” how satanic and worldly distractions do their best to lure believers off course, with predictably disastrous consequences.

In a world seemingly gone completely mad, one where instant sports millionaires claim oppression while hellhounds murder innocents for the crime of concert attendance, what is good and acceptable finds itself drowning beneath torrents of vile social media and public discourse rage. The anger over what is happening is understandable by anyone with a heart. The expressions and ideas set forth to prevent future horrors are regrettably often as steeped in lunacy as the acts bringing on these outbursts, for they fail to address the root cause of evil, namely humanity’s inhumanity. Acts of violence are seemingly paradoxically properly addressed solely by an act of violence: a lone figure nailed to a bloody cross so none need descend from this earth into perpetual utter isolation and agony. We do not need more gun control. We need more Spirit-led self-control.

The crazy voices surround us all, sometimes screaming and sometimes whispering their lies. They proclaim they have the answers, the solutions to prevent future evil played out by bullets sprayed about, or bombs or transportation vessels or whatever weapons are available used with murderous intent. They have neither. The only answer is holding on to Christ’s nail-scarred Hand, emulating as best we can in our stubborn state of rumbling fumbling tumbling stumbling bumbling imperfect humanity Jesus’ love. Nothing else works.

Nothing.

Although I am a California man, I love hockey and have ever since I was a kid, transistor radio hidden beneath my pillow so I could listen to California Golden Seals game. I was devastated when during my high school years the Seals first moved to Cleveland and then “merged with” (translation: disappeared into) the then Minnesota North Stars, now the Dallas Stars. I was beyond ecstatic when the San Jose Sharks came to be, and have faithfully followed them since.

Joel Ward is a veteran forward on the Sharks and one of the regrettably few black players in the National Hockey League. A couple of days ago he said he might join in on the current spate of whatever you want to call it sweeping the sports world. He then demonstrated why you should love hockey even if you hate sports:

He put thought into the matter. Quote:

Over the last several days, I have been asked if I would consider kneeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem. It’s something I have spent a lot of time thinking about.

As a black man, I have experienced racism both inside and outside of the sporting world. I have been pulled over by law enforcement for no reason. I have been looked at suspiciously because of the color of my skin.

I hold an immense amount of respect for the many players – across the sporting world – that have chosen to peacefully bring attention to a couple of big issues in today’s society, which are inequality and the use of excessive force against people of color in the United States of America. Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently on a day-to-day basis.

I also feel that the original message that was trying to be communicated has been lost. The focus has shifted to the act of the kneeling itself or to a protest of the flag itself or the military. What are we really talking about here?

I feel extremely lucky to be able to play this great game of hockey, but even within our own game, we can treat each other better than we currently do at all levels of the sport. There is still progress to be made.

And that’s where I want everyone to re-focus their attention – on moving progress forward. We need to be working on bridging the gap between people of all color, and between law enforcement and minorities. How can we be a part of the solution and not part of the problem – or be another distraction from what the real issues are?

Although I fully support those who before me have taken the lead in bringing awareness to these issues, I will not kneel during the national anthem like my brothers have done.

But now that I have the world’s attention, let’s meet at the kitchen table, the locker room or in the stands and continue the healing process. Let our collective focus be on bridging the gap between communities – on working to heal generations of unequal treatment of people of color in the United States of America – and not turning our backs on that which is hard to face head on.

I will continue to work within my community to help improve the lives of others, and I intend to partner with groups dedicated to bridging racial inequality and fostering a better relationship between law enforcement and people of all color.

If we spend more time talking about these real issues instead of the actions that are taking place in an attempt to raise awareness about them, we will be a much richer and stronger society.

Joel Randal Ward

“I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it, and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist.” – Jackie Robinson

It’s something for both sides to think about. And act upon.

Thank you, Joel. And LET’S GO SHARKS!

Given the omnipresent heaviness of current news around the world, with natural disasters and threatened man made ones on all sides, thought it best to take a moment and breathe.

The NFL seems hellbent on self-destruction, what wth continued permitted player protests during the National Anthem plus a deadly inability to address CTE. You’d think with the tens of bajillions the league rakes in it’d spen some of that money on designing a more protective helmet, but unfortunately it does not appear to be in any way a priority.

Still, football remains the straw that stirs the American sports drink. Baseball might be the national pastime, but football is the national passion. Even more than arguing about politics, believe it or not.

Although I am San Francisco Bay Area born and raised, my football alliances lie with the Colts, for reasons explained here, and the Los Angeles Rams. The latter is most unusual, given the NorCal-SoCal rivalry bordering on open warfare. But I always liked the Rams … when they were in the rather tarnished Golden State. Now they are back home, although based on game attendance this season not many people in Southern California are aware of this.

Doubtless to the eyeroll of many, this weekend’s first prime time football matchup featured the aforementioned Rams, who haven’t had a winning season since the last Bush administration, and the San Francisco 49ers who presently bear zero resemblance to the team that won five Super Bowls. The stands were half-full at best, more than a few news stories passing around how you could buy a secondary market ticket for the game with less money than the price of two pretzels at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the 49ers and Who’s Who in Peninsula Gangbangers.

Naturally, the Rams and 49ers played what will doubtless be considered the season’s most entertaining game, a seesaw battle ultimately decided in the Rams favor by a thwarted two-point conversion and a final defensive stand after the 49ers recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter. It was the first game I’ve been able to watch all year (work schedule; same reason I’ve been silent about NASCAR). To say both teams are works in progress would be the strongest understatement since noting as of late the Caribbean weather has been less than stellar. But, Jared Goff is getting a firm grip on this NFL quarterbacking thing; this plus some major personnel upgrades have taken the Rams offense from being offensive period to potent.

It was good for a few hours to forget the controversies; forget the wars raging online and threatened wars in real life, and simply enjoy the game. We are often told we steal much of life’s joy by routinely failing to live in the moment, this coupled with a reminder that Jesus’ first miracle was changing water into wine to keep the party going. (Nevertheless, I do not drink, but that is a story for another time.) Can we allow ourselves the luxury, at least once in a while, to have fun? Tonight was much-needed fun, this due in no small part to my team winning but also to two teams doing what the naysayers insisted couldn’t be done: put on a show.

In lieu of throwing any more fuel onto the fine fabulous furry freakout fire that is social media today )DACA! WALL! TRUMP! SCHUMER! PELOSI! ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM! Okay, I might have thrown that last one in there) let’s talk sports in a way even the asporting, this being to athletic competition what apolitical is for those not giving a hoot about government machinations, can appreciate. Or at least tolerate.

Yesterday, the Oakland Athletics, better known as the Oakland A’s, announced the selection of a preferred location for their much-needed new ballpark. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in 2021 with occupancy in 2023. This might seem like an inordinately lengthy timespan, but given the need to buy and clear the property, deal with the NIMBYs living nearby plus the ninnys in local government – pardon the redundancy – plus all the usual California ridiculousness, it’s a decent plan.

The A’s have for years done everything wrong while trying to get a new ballpark: begging for government funding, looking to move elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, and crying poor with ownership that had more money than Bill Gates’ piggy bank. Recently, changes have been made, with a new point man Dave Kaval put in charge. And oh, what a difference a Dave makes: major community outreach, major dressing up the perilously close to crumbling Oakland Coliseum, and a promise to the A’s longsuffering fan base that yes, we’ll stop always trading in lieu of resigning our young talent when they hit their stride. The Bat Pack, as A’s 110% made of awesome beat reporter Susan Slusser has dubbed the freshfaced crop of kids led by developing superstud third baseman Matt Chapman, will be breaking pitchers hearts and blasting homers for years to come. In new digs.

The veteran Christian arena rock band Petra once sang, “Good things come to those who wait / Not to those who hesitate / So hurry up and wait upon the Lord.” While baseball, its most fervent fans notwithstanding, is not comparable with faith in Christ on the importance list, there is a valuable lesson here. Put simply, it is this: in so many areas of life, momentary matters far too often are subjected to urgent tyranny rather than patient, encompassing thought.

Yes, it has taken a painfully long time to get to yesterday’s announcement regarding a new ballpark. Yes, it will seem like an eternity sweating out every step until construction starts. But it will happen. Baseball, the great American constant, will continue in Oakland as it has for forty-nine years.

The memories of victories and defeats, the last game I attended with my beloved beyond words late father; these will carry on. The empty feeling of sitting in the Coliseum stands after what turned out to be the 1994 season’s last game before the strike, when the A’s were for sale and their future in Oakland anything but certain, wondering if this would be the last time I would ever see my team … that feeling I will cheerfully forever banish.

Really, people who live on the eternal ragged edge, forever frothing and foaming at the mouth at every turn of the political wind. Will you relax? Very, very little is decided in an instant in politics or anywhere else. Breathe. Relax. Let it slide. Far more often than not, it will end up sliding in safe at home. So let it be.

And let’s play ball.

In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct — as irrational animals do — will destroy them.

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm — shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted — twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

Jude 8-13

We live in troubled times. Domestically, horrific wildfires are ravaging Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Texas is still working on sufficiently drying out from Harvey to initiate rebuilding. Irma is inexorably marching toward Florida. Across the Pacific, a madman plays with thermonuclear toys, working daily to facilitate throwing them at us. Europe wonders not if, but when and where the next crazed jihadist will slaughter innocents. The watchwords of our time are love and peace, yet we are engulfed by hatred and war.

On the line dividing fact and fiction
You’d like to stake your reputation
But the natural man has an addiction
To believe the worst of fabrications
And when the rumor is on the wire
It will be trial by fire

It’s a test of any man’s endurance
Just to survive the castigations
You hope and pray for some deliverance
As you turn to face the accusations
And when your future is on the line
What will your answers be?
Come to the question and state your case

Will you make or break it?
Choose your weapons well
Make or break it
Soon the toll will tell
All freedom has its price
Is this your paradise?

A mastermind of much illusion
Media controls the public reason
It terrifies with great confusion
And a power that fosters truth or treason

And when the rumor is on the wire
It will be trial by fire
And fact and fiction don’t mean a thing

Will you make or break it?
Choose your weapons well
Make or break it
Soon the toll will tell
All freedom has its price
Is this your paradise?

And many good men have fallen
With no defense from the fatal word
Is this a part of the American dream

Will you make or break it?
Choose your weapons well
Make or break it
Soon the toll will tell
All freedom has its price
Is this your paradise?

– “Make Or Break It”; words and music by Kerry Livgren

We also live in a time where self-aggrandizing political prattle reigns supreme. Wisdom and experience’s still small voice is drowning beneath tidal waves of loud obnoxious buffoons restating the obvious with vapid feigned insight. We are called to speak the truth in love. Instead, we continue to slobber the trivial in lavish tongue baths.

It is imperative for those of faith to proclaim Christ’s message boldly, unfailingly, and primarily. The public voice enjoys no division between secular and sacred. Jesus is not a fire alarm, ignored save in emergency situations. Nor is He a trophy displayed when it serves our purposes. Jesus is Savior, or He is not. Jesus is Lord, or He is not. He does not serve us when we pull Him off the shelf and dust Him off because we need more blog post hits or a bigger audience share. We are commanded to serve Him. We are commanded to love others as He loves us. We are commanded to proclaim His message. And no, churning out echo chamber copy does not qualify. Certainly politics matter. Decisions made by government affect us all. There is room and time for informed debate. Cutting and pasting news stories is neither debate nor informed. It is weak coattail riding.

It should be a shot across the bow that three teenage sisters have done more in one three minute video to proclaim Christ crucified and risen by being real than has been achieved in thirty thousand political blog posts. The luxury of shoving Jesus into a corner because we are too busy shoving ourselves into the spotlight as self-proclaimed pundits is no longer affordable. Now is the time to prioritize. A hurting, bleeding, dying world does not need another DACA rehash. It needs Jesus. It needs us, each of us, spreading the Good News while directly helping each other and stranger alike.

This is our call. Will you make or break it?

There is a normal tendency, when faced with an event as vast and overwhelming as Hurricane Harvey, to, while not denying the disaster’s scope, pare it down to incidents and individuals more easily managed. The person helping a person; the rescuer with a beloved pet under each arm, wading through flood waters as he or she carries them to safety. These images we can digest, expanding outward from them to, as best we can, envision such a natural disaster’s immense scope.

Another normal tendency is, when events as momentous as what has besieged Houston and other cities in Texas, Louisiana, and elsewhere take place, kindly but firmly suggesting to others perpetually enveloped in their own personal drama that while (quoting Shakespeare) the quality of mercy is not strained (quoting no one I’m aware of) the amount of available sympathy is most likely severely rationed. It’s not that anyone stops caring about others when something heavy comes down, but you might have to accept a rain check and realize you’re not the universe’s center this week, with next week also in question. Spock noted in the second (and easily the best) Star Trek movie that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the individual or the few. This is a hard saying in today’s society, where self-definition demands the same glorification as self-glorification. Problem is, when everyone believes and acts like they are the star of the movie, the supporting cast is nowhere to be found and John Donne’s statement that no man is an island takes on a whole new meaning. The one-man or woman band quickly becomes a one-note samba providing no motivation for dancing.

This ties into the simultaneous beauty and horror of the Internet in general and social media in particular: fortunately, everyone can participate; unfortunately, so can anyone. Whether trolling others with differing views, hiding behind a screen name’s non-existent anonymity and deliberately provoking people in order to play the victim when they react, or constantly trolling for attention and/or sympathy while playing to the hilt the role of World’s Only Bereaved™, perpetually screaming online “look at MEEEEE” is the modern version of the boy who cried wolf: eventually, even if your complaint is legitimate, everyone else will have grown so tired of it and you that when you really need someone there will be no one around.

It may be utterly shocking to some – well, many – that were they to unplug once in a while the sun would rise the following morning. Equally astounding is the notion that there are other people in the world and they matter too. We all have our sorrows and our battles, this explaining why far more often than not pity party invitations are marked returned to sender. Even as it is improper to tell someone who is suffering they should get over it, it is inconsiderate to insist others allow themselves to be dragged with you as you wallow in your inability to get through it.

Loving someone is not manifested by there there-ing their perpetual plea for attention. It is manifested by knowing where sympathy is demonstrated via support. Don’t feed the attention-hungry trollers. Instead, suggest they shut up and go do something to uplift themselves other than be emotional vampires. Watch a Woody Woodpecker cartoon. Listen to some Grateful Dead. Turn off Facebook and Twitter in favor of feeling some sunshine on your face and listening to the birds tweet. Do something for someone.

There is enough rain falling on us all. Refuse to indulge your perpetual individual cloud. Embrace the sunshine daydream. Please.

In a world seemingly gone mad, finding something or someone worth praising can be difficult. The old adage regarding the news media, namely “if it bleeds it leads,” has seldom been more accurate than it is today. Be the blood literal or figurative, the latter shed by those living in Perpetual Butthurtsville shaking with fear over killer statues, the crazies are crowding the stage. Those practicing normalcy, or working toward the betterment of others, receive scant if any attention. So let’s pay them some.

In Florida, there resides a household featuring three sisters, ages of same being seventeen, sixteen, and thirteen. (I’ll save you troubling yourself with the math; their collective age is twelve years lower than mine. Ouch.) As is easily imagined, said household can get a mite loud. Seriously loud.

Welcome to Gold Frankincense & Myrrh, three young women on a mission.

While the notion of three teenage girls playing and singing blistering metalcore (or, as they not inaccurately call it, beautycore) might seem a tad odd, they are not the first female hard rockers. However, they are one of the very few featuring substance rather than sex appeal and style. Tongue in cheek, quite modest cheerleader outfits are the band’s standard stage apparel, and offstage the members stay modest in all areas. Also, Gold Frankincense & Myrrh (GFM for short) might be the first all-woman metal band to include a mission statement on their website that would warm even the most cantankerous fundamentalist’s King James Version-bound heart.

Thankfully, mom is cool with her daughters musical adventures. In fact, she’s so cool she works with the band, her collegiate studies in finance and investment doubtless proving quite handy as she reps for them. And moms them without stage moming them, instead keeping the focus on her remarkable trio of offspring.

While I freely admit my current listening habits lean far more toward my beloved classic Christian rock plus excursions into Grateful Dead and Gentle Giant territory, I rather like GFM’s mix of muscle and meaning. It warms my heart to see young woman serving Christ without doing the same ol’ same ol’ worship recipe cut and paste pablum. Three plus decades after it started, there are still artists proclaiming the Message without compromise either spiritually or artistically. You better believe I’m going to do what I can to let people know they’re out there and need our support. GFM won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But for all believers, they are beautiful examples that the Spirit is still cranking it up to 11.

This is one of those “to tell the story I first have to tell you this story” posts, so please bear with.

During the early months of last year (February, to be precise), I posted a lengthy dissertation on my personal blog about my favorite guitar and its assorted adventures since coming into my possession a few years ago. Said guitar is a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, which as noted in the aforementioned post is pretty much the absolute low end of desirability among electric guitar players/collectors in general and Les Paul aficionados in particulari. This holds firm even with the Les Paul being rivaled only by the Fender Stratocaster in terms of popularity among six-string gunslingers. Nevertheless, it is my instrument of choice.

In my case, I bought my Les Paul off of ebay (some hard-earned wisdom when it comes to guitar buying and ebay: don’t mix the two). It arrived sorely in need of some tender loving care, which after being applied transformed the guitar into a genuinely superb instrument despite all the slagging said model, made during said time period, usually receives.

Although it seems impossible given how you cannot find a rock’n’roll band of any stripe from the past forty-five years without a Les Paul being close at, if not in, hand, there was a time when Gibson dropped it from its product line due to years of steadily declining sales. Throughout nearly the entirety of the 1960s, not a single one was built. It was only in 1969 that demand created by the Eric Claptons and Jimmy Pages of this world among others reached a sufficient level for the guitar’s reintroduction, and even then haltingly; it would be two decades before new ownership both rescued Gibson from imminent demise and brought the Les Paul back in anything close to its original, highly prized form. How highly prized? The ones made from 1957 to 1960, after which production was halted, routinely command six figures, often with a crooked number leading the way.

Which leads from this story to the story, namely A.J. Delgado.

Ms. Delgado was, until the end of last year, a longtime member of conservative new media’s upper echelon. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Ms. Delgado was an established lawyer before she started routinely gracing assorted high flyer publications and becoming a regular guest on political television. In last year’s Presidential election – which, by the way, is still over – she threw her support to Donald Trump, going so far as to directly work for his campaign. It was during this time period she met a man who also worked for the campaign, and as happens (not excusing it, just stating the facts) an office romance ensued. Yes, the man was married, but he swore to Ms. Delgado that he and his wife were separated. It later became apparent the man’s interpretation of what entails being separated from one’s spouse was quite different than the norm, as when Ms. Delgado informed him she was unexpectedly expecting, he responded with, “So is my wife.” Awkward.

After dropping a few quite unsubtle hints about what had been/was going on, Ms. Delgado went silent on social media for several months while most everyone who had feted her just weeks before dropped her like a hot potato. No more writing gigs. No more television appearances. It got to the point where a now thoroughly unemployed Ms. Delgado was forced to move in with her mother. She recently gave birth to a son, and has now re-emerged on social media talking not politics, but personal matters related to being a new, single mother.

A third element now enters the story, that being a story in and of itself: Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. When you read John’s account, note that there was no question of whether the woman was being falsely accused. She was guilty. The penalty for adultery under Mosaic law was being stoned to death. The law called for both guilty parties to be stoned to death, but apparently the man involved in this affair was either considered insufficiently guilty or was deemed inadequate for this exercise’s primary purpose which had nothing to do with following the law. It was an effort to trap Jesus in His own words. Say let her go, and Jesus would be violating the law. Say stone her, and all of Jesus’ words about forgiving sin and such would be exposed as hollow rhetoric. Let’s see you get out of this one, carpenter boy!

Jesus, rather than responding, said nothing; instead (depending on which translation you read) stooping over or sitting down on the ground and beginning to write in the dust with His finger. What He wrote was not recorded. Most theologians and such over the ensuing centuries have surmised Jesus was writing down a list of the sins committed by the would-be rock chuck gang. Could well be. Could also be He was writing, “Get ready to be disappointed, boys; you’re about to get the first and last word in mic drop a couple of thousand years before there are any mics to drop.” At this point Jesus stood up, said His famous few words about whoever was there that was without sin could go right ahead and start turning the adulteress into a miniature quarry, and resumed his writing as the crowd one by one dropped their stones in more ways than one and walked away, eventually leaving only Jesus and the adulteress.

Jesus, doubtless thankful that Richard Rosenblatt and Ritchie Cordell had not yet written “I Think We’re Alone Now,” asked what to the woman most likely seemed like a bizarre question: where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? She stifled the temptation of responding, “Uh … don’t you see there’s no one here? Why are you asking me the obvious?” Instead, she replied with a simple, “No, Lord.” Presumably she had heard of Jesus before this moment; He was the talk of the nation. Perhaps she had even heard Him speak, or heard one of His disciples when Jesus sent them out to evangelize. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, even in her utterly terrified state – remember, just a few minutes before this moment she was going to be brutally executed – she realized the Man before her was far, far more than just another itinerant preacher. Jesus had done what no mere man could have done. He had saved her life.

Jesus then said, “Neither do I (condemn you). Go and sin no more.” Mull this over for a moment. Jesus neither condemned the woman for her actions nor condoned them. Instead, he offered mercy and grace accompanied by a stern warning: leave your past life behind. No more adultery. You should be dead right now. Instead, this is your chance to begin life anew. Don’t blow it. (It has long and often been surmised the woman was Mary Magdalene, who would later reappear in the Gospels, but there is no hard Scriptural evidence for this either yea or nay.)

By now, the logical conclusion is, “Ah-HAH! He’s comparing the story of Jesus and the adulteress to A.J. Delgado’s story!” Actually, no, although it does serve a purpose of illustrating why people should lay off the judgmental junk. The real comparison is between Ms. Delgado and the Les Paul guitar in general, my Les Paul Deluxe in particular.

Like the Les Paul, Ms. Delgado’s glory days, if you will, came before she went offline to focus on her new role as a single mom. Like the Les Paul on its first go-around, Ms. Delgado was shunned. Like my Les Paul Deluxe, since her reentry into the public realm Ms. Delgado has been considered as quite the lesser to her former self, having had an affair with a married man and having birthed a child out of wedlock. This time last year she was the hot hand, the prominent feature. Now, she changes diapers in solitude, the cameras and clamor having long departed.

It is easy to say Ms. Delgado is reaping what she has sown, thus eliminating the need to extend any of that love, grace, and mercy stuff. Sure, give her credit for not murdering … er, aborting her son when it would have been all too easy to do so, deny all rumors of an affair, and carry on with everything as before. Other than that, forget about it. And her.

There is another option.

One could try the neither condoning nor condemning tack. You know, what would Jesus do. Or, in this case, did. He offered the adulteress a fresh start, bringing her back literally from the brink of death and telling her you have another chance; don’t throw it away by throwing yourself into the wrong man’s arms again. He offered her grace and mercy. All she had to do was accept it and, going forward, walk with Him figuratively by her side, following His teachings and allowing herself to be transformed by His love. You know … like my Les Paul Deluxe when it was properly treated, changing it from a somewhat battered and thoroughly unwanted relic to something of immense value. At least to me. And certainly Ms. Delgado is of infinitely greater value than any guitar.

So what do you say? Maybe extend the same love, grace, and mercy to her God has extended to each of us? Maybe send her some encouraging words and lift her up in prayer? Maybe, just maybe, acknowledge that in devoting herself to her son Ms. Delgado is doing something of great value, something that deserves a tip of the cap to the person doing this thing?

C’mon. We can do it.

Let’s do it.